Monday, June 30, 2008

Yard Sale Pictures

Here are two pictures of our very lovely and professional set up. It pleased me to be a part of this.

I sat on my porch with a table for my cards and little peace banners and actually sold some of them. I also gave out quite a few of the bookmarks that I use as a business card for this project. It was a beautiful weekend and a lot of fun.

Monday Once More

The yard sale is behind us and that is a milestone for this summer. It was fun and I have pictures to post of how my patio was transformed into a temporary shop. Sunday saw a slower day and that was good for I was too tired, wishing that we had called it quits on Saturday, except that Sunday also allowed me to reconnect with several neighbors. Now all I need to do is follow through.

Today I am back to solitude and reclusivity (probably not a word, but I don't mind making it up), a little sunburned and major tired. Old joints and muscles don't spring back the way they did twenty years ago.

To my surprise there are still clusters of poppies blooming in the back yard. Smaller than the resplendent show of the previous weeks, they are nevertheless pretty and a splash of color in an otherwise rather drab space.

Now I must refocus to a Mary Kay promotion that I need to do, the inevitable tweaking of Squidoo lenses, the cafepress shop and my kitchen (looks like a wreak).

It is a quiet day and I am glad for it. Predominate mood is one of gratitude.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yard Sale in Progress

Day one of the yard sale is behind me and I sit here a very pooped participant, but very grateful indeed. My friend who has been doing this for eight years is a real pro. The set-up looks so attractive and professional, more like an outdoor shop than a yard sale.

My friend and her husband even have a tent, the open market kind, that is set up in part of the patio. This is so neat and so fun. I want one. (Wish list time.)

Several people bought my cards and that pleased me too. They are pretty and I wish I could get out to shops to place them. One young woman mentioned a shop in downtown Mountain View that I will contact.

I had great conversations with two neighbors, whom I had not seen in a long time and overall the experience was fun, although tiring.

Tomorrow we will open up again and see if more goodies move through. I would love to sell one Peace banner and some more cards. At least I gave away a lot of the book marks that serve as my business cards.

It has been years since I have seen this many people in one day and my brain is as tired as my body! Sometimes I am surprised at the extent to which I really have become a recluse and am not sure this is good. On the other hand, it is my reality and so I live it. Monday the return to the solitary life will probably feel very good!

Yard sales are part of the suburban landscape, as much a part of summertime ritual as swimming and sunscreen, or fourth of July picnics. I don't think that I have ever participated in one before so I feel now as though I have experienced a sort of initiation into a rite that I was missing out on.

I am grateful even though I am now behind schedule on everything that I am trying to write--there will be time for that.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gardens and Wish Lists

Yesterday I carefully planned and then executed an order to Bountiful Gardens. Twenty yards of shade cloth for various windows to stave off the heat during the next inevitable heat wave. Then lots of seeds. Four kinds of tomatoes--I am hoping that I will get fruit around the time that my sister visits and herbs and flowers. Now I just wait for the package to arrive and then find friends who can hang the shade cloth and plant the seeds.

In the meantime, from yesterday to today, I remembered the things I'd forgotten to order. So back to the website to construct a wish list. Oh for an acre or two somewhere--preferably not in a flood zone or in tornado alley. (I know I wouldn't choose anywhere too hot and humid.)

At heart I would have liked to be a farmer, a market gardener or at least have had a bigger yard, not for grass and bushes, but for food and flowers. Twenty years ago, I dreamnt these dreams and I am still here.

Another wish list of sorts is the wish list I am making for Vocational Rehabilitation. I need to network my skills and have a van of my own for reliable transport that I can use to do that as well as get out more socially and to medical appointments. Thanks to a friend who is also one of my Mary Kay customers I have found out about a great networking organization right here on the Peninsula that linked to something I had been looking for and not finding--the microenterprise loans through the SBA. It's about time, so that is a new wish list.

Then there is the much greater wish list--for peace, prosperity and justice. For inclusion of those who are disabled and the recognition that the workplace can and should come to us for telecommuting just as it comes to those who are able-bodied. I'd like to see this as part of the national political agenda, but I don't know how to make it so. Certainly, no one is talking about it--maybe the candidates don't realize that disabled people do vote. (I've had a permanent absentee ballot for so long that I don't remember how long!)

Still, I am grateful and my gratitude includes the weather and my wish list includes the weather--may it remain cool and may the firefighters win their battle to stop California from burning.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More to Do

The to do list grows and grows. First there are the daily things, brush teeth, cook, wash dishes, sell Mary Kay, join networking groups on the Internet (that one soaks up time disproportionately to its returns, oh yes),work on writing projects and find things to sell in yard sale.

The yard sale that was two months off and a great idea looms this weekend. I am not ready. Everything has to be dusted, priced and finally arranged for sale. It would have been simpler to send it to the goodwill. However, I am doing this with friends, so I can't back out.

Self-promotion is an endless part of the to-do list. Make new business cards, make a brochure, make a press release (and actually mail it this time, which probably also means buy stamps). Before doing any of these uninstall one old printer that isn't working and install(setup) new printer. How many glitches before it prints page one?

Networking. Sounds like it should be fun and rewarding, right? Actually, it is overwhelming and time-consuming. At least it isn't cold-calling (which I thoroughly detested when it was still legal to do it.)

Pay the bills. That one never leaves the to-do list since they flow into the house in a kind of random stream--make sure I don't miss any. There must be a way to simplify this.

De-clutter the house. I've been at that one so long, I should have succeeded by now! I think I'll still be at this when I die! (If I'm lucky.)

Water the plants, pinch the basil (don't forget to cook the vegetables and use the basil), transplant some of them, buy the shade cloth from Bountiful Gardens along with seeds. (I could spend a very large sum here, if I hadn't already spent money elsewhere that I am still paying interest on.)

Revise my Cafepress site and update Squidoo lenses. Make new designs on Friendship and Flowers and garden themes for the cafepress. Figure out how the affiliate program actually does work. (This one has been there for quite a long time and should be given top priority.)

Figure out a better way to prioritize. Make appointments with myself to get some of these tasks done. (May sound silly, but has worked in the past.)

Have a second cup of coffee and think in peace about some of the above, giving thanks for the cool air and the fog. It smells less smoky today, so that is a great benefit.

Buy a lottery ticket so I can win and retire in peace. Overall, I am grateful, albeit tired

Monday, June 23, 2008

Catching Up and Giving Thanks

Today is cool, as it should be for this time of the year. It is so beautiful and so blessed after the nasty, brutal heat of last week. Saturday the thermostat in my main hallway said 88 degrees. Horrid. Once in my life it got hotter. I fear these summer heat waves even more than I fear my winter heating bills. (And I tremble when I open those.)

The basil loved the heat and grew inches. The roses also thrive, thanks to the kindness of a friend who watered them everyday. The garden is a blessing. It is fun to start cuttings from existing plants and watch them take hold and grow.

I am thinking about "living shade", plants that will grow to six or eight feet and cool various parts of my house. Last summer I wrote about sunflowers. This summer my neighbors directly across the street have planted a bed of them. These are the tallest plants I have ever seen! As tall as the roof of their garage now, the plants also have the biggest leaves I've ever seen and they are beginning to flower. So pretty, the huge disks of yellow and brown follow the sun. I love them.

There are other plants that will grow so tall. Flax, wheat, some pole beans, morning glories. I have been spending time on the website of Bountiful Gardens and making lists. Is it too late already to plant this? Pearson Tomatoes will mature in 80-90 days. I would have tomatoes in time for my sister's visit in the fall. What can I grow in the side yard to shade the bedroom?

In the meantime, I will resort to primitive things that work. White blackout cloth has replaced a makeshift cardboard in one large window. More to come, for the cloth is here. This fabric doesn't feel like fabric; it doesn't have a nice "hand" and it doesn't drape. It does the job of blocking light though and since it is put up right behind the air vent, I noticed an immediate improvement in air flow from the summer air fan. (Almost as good as air conditioning and much less expensive.)

Whiteboard can be used almost like shutters in houses in the nineteenth century were used and it blocks light and heat. (Cuts drafts in the winter, too.) A huge piece sits in my front hall waiting to be cut into two pieces and used to block more light and heat.

I don't have space to plant a tree and I don't think I have time either. Twenty years ago, we could have planted trees and now there would be shade. I can't maintain trees though. That is one thing a disabled person just can't do!

Overall, I am simply grateful to be here, grateful to have a sweater draped over my shoulders and ever so grateful for the blissful cool air coming in on me. Last time I checked the weather channel page, about 8:30 am, it was 69 degrees outside. Praise God!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Growing Tomatoes

Two tomato plants languish in my side yard planter box. I know that the soil has not been amended and it was not watered before they were planted. The planter box grew a spectacular crop of weeds during the spring, but I assume they depleted rather than added to the soil.

Tomatoes need a lot of water and these probably haven't been getting enough. They also thrive on sun, and the area is partially in shade. I know that there are roses that will grow in part shade, but what about tomatoes? Probably not.

This morning I entertained myself by looking for information about tomato roots. They can grow to be three feet deep. That was new information. The pots they are supposed to be transplanted into are less than that, but better than the hard ground they are now in for they will be filled with very good potting soil mix.

So the next question is will they survive transplanting? There is a phenomenon known as "transplant shock" during which the newly planted either take hold and thrive or give up and die. I am thinking of seeing if they can be transplanted in stages. First they should go into some pots that are big enough, full of good soil and set where they will get morning sun and afternoon shade until they look like they are making it and then moved to the back to get used to more sun. Then and only then can they be transplanted into the really big pots.

The other day I realized that if I really wanted big pots, the family collection of vintage metal garbage cans would be great. I think I could grow a Meyer lemon in one. Very funky form of recycling, I'd like to give it a try.

Will report on the progress of the tomatoes. I have eaten the first three crooked neck squash as baby squash. Very yummy. But should be allowed to grow more. Am told that the beans are flowering and are ready to be staked. This is good.

Life is good except that it is hot and I prefer cool. The plum tree continues to stand. Gratitude is a major part of my life tonight.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunshine and Letting Go

Yesterday was Father's Day and a friend who remembered my father called late in the day to let me know that she was thinking of him and remembering him. I appreciated that very much. For the last nine years Father's Day has been so hard because shortly before he died I had ordered his presents and was itching for them to come so that I could surprise him with them. They came a few days after his funeral and I cried and put them away. One was a cd of music from movie soundtracks that include a piece he had especially liked, the music from that PBS series from the 1980's, Reilly Ace of Spies. I can not hear that on the radio still without tearing up and thinking that he never received my present. I can't remember what the other one was though, probably a book. So time is helping this.

As I write two friends are working in the side yard. My neighbor's plum tree lost a branch last Monday just as the heat wave got under way. After it is cleaned out and the branches with too many plums trimmed back, I don't think there will be much left. It was glorious this spring with an abundance of white flowers. I don't think that I was able to have anyone take any pictures, but every time I looked out at it I tried to memorize it just in case. I think its flowering this year, a month late may have indeed been its swan song.

For decades I have loved that tree, the white blossoms speak joy to me. Most years it bloomed in February at exactly the same time. In 1983 it bloomed while Mama was dying in the intensive care unit. I have thought of it ever since as her resurrection tree and felt on some level that when it goes, so will I.

The latter has really been mostly because the tree provided deep, luxurious shade to my bedroom window in summer's worst heat. It served so faithfully and well without any additional water than what it received from the rain. If it is truly unsaveable, as I expect it is, I will miss it terribly and grieve for it. It is and was a friend to me.

It is a Satsuma plum tree, the plums deep purple from stone to skin. Sweet and juicy the plum was a treat just off the tree and even more so after refrigerating it. Once in its heyday--and mine--I made splendid plum chutney from the fruit with garlic and hot chiles added. It was good enough that I could have entered it in the County fair, for it always won praise from friends whom I gifted it with at Christmas time.

Thinking about the plum tree makes me think of those times gone by. Mama made jam from some of the plums that was still on the shelves after she died. It was delicious on her home-made whole wheat bread. Bread baking and the sweet smell of jam bubbling on the stove, two food memories that are also smell memories.

The fruit along with fruit from an apricot tree would ripen on the hottest days, always on the hottest days, of course. Ripe fruit has to be attended to on its terms, immediately, or else it becomes compost or garbage very quickly. So it would be time to haul out the dutch oven and the wooden spoon, the hand grinder and the canning jars and rings (lids would already have been on the grocery list some weeks before so as to get them before the store ran out)and the work would begin.

The first time my sister and I tried canning was the year in the seventies that the grocery stores ran out of half-pint canning jars. This was actually a national shortage and I am sure in some parts of the country it was a real crisis. We bought three quarter pints and pints and even some quart jars. Every recipe that we chose made more than it said it would. We made zucchini pickles, canned apple slices and best of all, pear raisin mincemeat.

The pear raisin mincemeat and the chutneys were the best along with apricot jam when we had apricots from someone's tree. One year a friend gave me a large bag of Gravenstein apples. My recollection is that that one bag became four half pint jars of apple butter. Maybe it was six. It was essence of apple and it was sublime.

It has probably been almost twenty years since I have done any canning. I have had to let go of that too.

I will pray for the plum tree tonight when I go to bed. We will see. My friend is confidant that she can rig a shade structure of some sort so that I will survive. The side yard is only six feet deep, not deep enough for much. I wish it were ten or twelve. Twenty or twenty-five would be even better; then I could have a real garden in it. I am grateful today for the memories and the friends who helping with such hard work. Grateful too that it is cool.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Surviving Heat

Today is much cooler than Thursday and so much cooler than the predictions made it sound like it would be that I know that I am blessed. The air was still smoky last night from all the fires burning in various parts of California and that is scary. My heart goes out to those whose lives are disrupted and especially those who have lost their homes.

Now that it is cooler I need to assess what else I can do to keep the heat at bay when it returns, as it will. The windows are all covered with drapes or blinds but they are not quite sufficient for the job. White black-out cloth has been tacked on one window and it works quite well. More to come.

A piece of white foam core board originally purchased as a backing board for taking pictures, served well during the winter as a draft-stopper and is now serving as an insulator against the heat. More to come.

Fans run constantly in the house during heat waves. (I have no air-conditioning.) They are old though, so I need to buy at least one new one to have a back-up. That is on the list.

I did not need to use the ice in the freezer this time,so there is plenty of ice. Two years ago when we had a record breaking, historic heat wave that seemed to go on forever I found that the old ice cap, filled with ice helped quite a bit when I placed it on my head.

For a number of years I have worn a small towel wrung out in cool water around my neck in really hot weather. A personal and cheap cooling system that is messy but does work.

To use my computers, air-conditioning would definitely be necessary. This week I learned of something that I had never heard of before--through the wall air conditioners. That or a portable installed through the wall in the office might make it possible to continue to use a computer on a hot day.

Years ago friends had a thing on the roof that sucked the hot air out of the house allowing the cooler night air to displace more hot air and the house was significantly cooler. I want one. So I need to contact them and ask what the thing was called then get estimates from contractors to see if it is in budget. (Not much is at the moment.)

Full air would be the least hassle but the most costly solution to all these problems. For one person in the whole house? Maybe in a few years.

I have tried to be contented with the make shift measures that are inexpensive, not only because of income and budget concerns, but also because these are things that require less energy and less dependence on "the grid" and therefore on the outside world and large corporations.

At heart, I guess I am at least in part, a survivalist, skeptical of solutions to everyday needs that make me more dependent on an increasingly fragile multi-national big company economy.

Oh and a little salt on a hot day would not be a bad idea to counteract all the water.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Presents and Gratitude

Yesterday a friend dropped off two of the biggest pots I ever seen! They sit in my back patio just outside the screen door, green, new and pristine waiting for dirt and plants. My friend also dropped off four bags of great potting soil. She, who had already brought me plants for the side planter box and planted them, is unhappy with the way the tomato there is not growing. In the new pots the tomato and one of the zucchinis will prosper because they will have more sun. Yum,yum!

Last evening my young friend, M, she who so valiantly painted for me last summer, repotted one of the rose bushes in the front yard. The night before she and her sister had transplanted the first one, the most fragile of the four. It was great fun to watch them work together. The roses look happier already.

Then last evening M lengthened the string on my kitchen window shade. This is such a simple solution to giving me a better airflow that I am amazed (stupefied actually) that I didn't think of it years ago. The kitchen was several degrees cooler this morning. I had had an opening that was about a foot square with the previous short string. Now the shade goes up all the way and I can still pull it down.

The first crooked neck squash is growing on the plant in the side yard. It may be ready for picking tonight. This will be the first food from my own garden and I intend to treat it reverently; cherish it and eat it! I can hardly wait.

The weather gave us a respite from heat yesterday and the house cooled beautifully overnight to 69 degrees. I can really see the benefit of trees, for where I still have them there is lovely cool shade. Where they have been removed, or ruthlessly trimmed back, the house, as well as the ground near it, bakes in the heat. The temperature actually rises as the sun abates and the house hangs on to the heat. Since it is supposed to be fiercely hot tomorrow and Friday.

Slowly I am switching to a summer schedule and trying to resign myself to the too long days, the too bright house and the intermittent heat waves that are inevitable. Summer is upon us even though, officially, it doesn't start until next week. It will go by swiftly as did spring.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

In Remembrance

Nine years ago today my father died. He was 79 years old and a few months. He had just been to his doctor and he assured me that the doctor said he was continuing stable in his COPD and Emphysema. He was looking forward to celebrating the millenium and his 80th birthday that would have occurred shortly after, in February of 2000. He didn't make those milestones.

I remember coming home from the hospital after we had the respirator removed and he was truly gone to see my hollyhocks, which he had planted for me, gloriously in bloom. They were so effulgent that they seemed to billow over the "easy-riser" steps leading up to the house. A Monarch Butterfly was alight on the top most spire and it took my breath away with its rare beauty.

I have never liked butterflies as religious symbols or as resurrection symbols and for a while (particularly in the seventies) they seemed to be everywhere mostly in a way that was gaggingly, cloyingly sentimental. Death, like joy, is austere, but somehow the butterfly, maybe because it was a Monarch and they are not frequent visitors to our yard, took me by surprise and gave me joy and comfort at the same time when all else failed.

Papa planted those hollyhocks for me during my rampant gardening phase. The flowers are purple, glorious flowering and the plants are, fortunately, self-sowing. I hope they will continue as long as I remain in the house for they are a tribute to the kind and steadfast man who planted and tended them as a gift even though he did not particularly care about flowers or enjoy gardening all that much.

He has been in my thoughts a good deal this past week and this weekend especially for he loved me unconditionally. He did not see my disability, as unfortunately, others sometimes have done. He accepted me as I am and shared his life with me. He was an exceptionally bright, perhaps even brilliant man and our conversations ran deep.

I remember that when I was studying history in college he wanted to know what I was learning and told me that he was glad to have me share with him the things that he had not had time to study when he was in college. (He simply triple-majored in physics, chemistry and math and then took an electrical engineering degree.)

We miss him today, my sister and I. Heaven is home and we trust and believe he is there along with our mother. It is a long way away still for those who remain behind and I wish they could come visit.

Requiem aeternum, Papa mine. Frederick James Manor, February 16, 1920-June 8, 1999. I am so grateful for the privilege of being your daughter.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Driftwood and Longevity, Gardening

I am looking out my back window at a piece of driftwood lying in the middle of the right side of the backyard. With the poppies in the planter box behind it, it is not especially unattractive, but I hope that plants will eventually replace it. It used to dominate the side yard planter that now holds beans, a tomato and squash plant and some other edibles. How long will a piece of drift wood last?

This particular piece of driftwood may have been on the property since shortly after the house was built, over fifty years. So how old is it really? How long does a piece of driftwood last? How long does it take for a piece of wood to transmogrify into a piece of driftwood? What is the process? I know that it involves salt water, but how much and for how long and how does it stay afloat instead of sinking to the bottom of the sea?

All things to ponder as I write. The piece of driftwood might be older than I am. Or it might have been pulled fresh from the beach in a relatively short time prior to it's arrival here. If I can find someone who wants to use it in their landscape as the person who brought it here did, then it might well outlast me. Will it break down in the dump, if it ends up there? If not, it will definitely outlast me.

Trees take decades to grow and live longer than that; sometimes depending on the type of tree, the wind and weather, longer than human beings. Other times they succumb to disease and fall in wind. Life is fragile. So I wish this piece of driftwood--it isn't living anymore, I think--well. I hope that I can find a new home for it through one of the recycle lists or the neighborhood list.

The question of its being dead also is an interesting one. Wood as we use it and see it in our houses, desks and furniture isn't alive anymore either and yet it looks more alive, more like the the living tree than the piece of driftwood, cast adrift from the sea and into my backyard does. The table that I sit at now and the matching furniture in this room is nearing one-hundred years old. The trees that it was made from were not young, for the size of the pieces of wood suggests trees that had reached some girth to provide such solid planks. Trees that were alive well before I was born--possibly a century before me--provide me with the daily pleasure of working and eating at my dining room table. It is humbling to think of where I fit in to the scheme of things.

The driftwood also makes me think of native plant gardens, a big topic in the last few years in my area. This is a Mediterranean and desert mixed climate. There is typically no rain during the late spring, summer and much of the fall. If we are blessed, we receive the year's water in the form of winter rain and snow in the mountains that will produce sufficient water for the needs of the rest of the year.

Therefore, an interest has arisen in plants that are native to the area; that go brown but do not die during summer's sun and heat and that will green up once winter returns lower temperatures and precipitation to our area.

The driftwood was a major part of the landscaping on the side of the house when we first moved in. It didn't need much else. The front patio is broken up by a dirt circle that we have always called the "planting circle". When we moved in it was bordered by low mounds of Fescue, a native grass. Green during the winter and brown during the summer; my Mother, a Midwesterner, did not like it. It looked too much like the desert--which this area is actually--not enough like home, which she missed. Eventually, she had someone tear out the Fescue. Now it is trendy and expensive! I have wished that it was still there.

Twenty years ago, with the help of friends, I planted Mediterranean herbs in that circle. A few are still there. It is a good place now for roses and lavender and spring bulbs. So I will research how best to have the soil hold water, how to mulch and feed them and then find the plants to put there. Some perhaps, especially the lavender, will outlast me.

We garden, I think, in order to be at one with Nature, in order to dream and sometimes to leave something that will outlast us. All are humbling pursuits, suitable to our lives at any time, but perhaps most especially after mid-life.

I am grateful for the garden and even for the big, hulking old piece of driftwood for it has given me something to ponder.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Deconstruction Completed

For decades the house across the street from mine had a swimming pool that filled the front patio (now frequently referred to as the courtyard). Surrounded by a high fence, as are most of the houses in my neighborhood, the pool could not be seen. It took five days of pounding with a jack hammer and backloading with a small bulldozer, I called it a "baby dozer"--sort of like a baby dinosaur--to remove the concrete. Then the biggest truck I have ever seen on my street, a two-barreled black tanker pulled up and downloaded dirt into the street. The next day the 'dozer driver began trundling dirt into the yard through the hole that had been made by removing part of the fence. A friend and I watched on Friday and he commented that watching construction was mesmerizing. I found it so. Today they are tamping down the new dirt with a compactor and removing equipment. Peace and quiet will return and perhaps I can blog every day or so again. Writing was not possible last week!

I am glad for the young couple who bought the house two summers ago that they are going forward with their plans. The pool was in disrepair--probably too far gone to repair--and costly to maintain. It had become a "mosquito-breeder" and therefore even more costly to maintain because of the concern about West Nile Virus.

While the pool was being pounded out last week, I found myself thinking about my own memories of that pool. Seven or eight owners have passed through the house during the fifty plus years since it was built. Early on we knew the neighbors because two daughters were classmates in the same school. I remember that we were invited to swim and just to visit and that on one occasion we went over with our new young Keeshond to introduce her to the neighbors. They had a poodle and Frosty and the poodle began chasing around the perimeter of the pool. Frustrated because she wasn't catching the poodle, Frosty cut across the diagonal of the pool. The look on her face as she hit the water was something that I have never seen since and never forgotten. Part shock, part terror and then finally rage. Papa kicked off his shoes and was just about to dive in when we all realized that she was "dog paddling" toward the edge of the pool. Instinct had kicked in and she knew exactly what to do. One furious mass of wet fur was hauled out of the water. On dry land, she proceeded to shake water over all of us to let us know exactly how she felt about being bamboozled. A bath and more shaking followed at home because, of course, we had to get the chlorine out of her fur.

A decade later I was going to graduate school and coming home for the summers. The next neighbors kindly allowed me to use the pool so that I could exercise and keep in shape for my return to Chicago in the Fall.

It was a nice pool and I am glad that I do not have one to contend with in my patio. I figure that at today's prices the cost of removing a swimming pool is probably about the sum that my parents received for the two bedroom, one bath "bungalow" that we lived in in Toledo before we came to California.

Silence. At last. As I have been writing the last truck has pulled away and it is so quiet that it is almost delicious. I will stop clicking and clacking away here and savor it.